Third woman elected to South Carolina Supreme Court

 June 6, 2024

Letitia Verdin, a Court of Appeals Judge, was unanimously elected by South Carolina legislators to the state Supreme Court. This marks the third time in the state's history that a woman has held the position of chief justice.

The election concludes South Carolina's tenure as the sole state in the nation with an all-male Supreme Court, as the Post and Courier reported.

The Legislature elected Justice John Kittredge to assume the chief's position in early March, and Chief Justice Don Beatty will retire this summer upon reaching the judiciary's mandatory retirement age of 72. Verdin was elected on June 5 to replace Kittredge in his current position.

From the Judge

“I’m absolutely honored at the trust the General Assembly has placed in me,” Verdin told reporters after her election. “I’m looking forward to being a justice who serves all of South Carolina.”

After the two other candidates, Columbia Circuit Court Judge Jocelyn Newman and Court of Appeals Judge Blake Hewitt, both from Conway, withdrew from the race last week, Verdin's election was virtually guaranteed.

This is frequently the case when judicial candidates recognize that they lack the necessary support in the Legislature.

About the New Judge

Verdin, a 53-year-old resident of Travelers Rest, was a member of the family court in Greenville County from 2008 until 2011, when she was elected to the circuit court by the Legislature.

She was elected to the Court of Appeals by the Legislature last year. In 1997, she completed her studies at the University of South Carolina School of Law.

Verdin could continue to serve on the high court until 2043, when she would reach retirement age if she continues to seek reelection.

“What a glorious day for our Supreme Court to welcome now another sister,” the former chief justice, Jean Toal, who was the first woman elected to the state Supreme Court, told reporters following Verdin’s election.

The Court's Other Women

Justice Kaye Hearn, the court's second female justice, and Toal were both present.

Like hundreds of attorneys who sent out anonymous surveys for the state's judicial vetting commission earlier this year, Toal lauded Verdin for being very competent, polite, and diligent.

At an early May commission hearing, Verdin promised to exercise judicial restraint and give the Legislature the benefit of the doubt.

“I understand that I am not a policymaker, and I understand I’m not a lawmaker, but I’m an interpreter of the law, and I take that seriously,” Verdin told the panel. “Acceptance is certainly something that’s come now to the presence of women on the court."

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